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Again: no evidence garlic, ginger, turmeric and lemon ‘boost’ immune system

A Facebook post shared in Nigeria claims drinking a mixture of natural ingredients can be used to “boost the immune system” and “overall body function”. 

The list of ingredients includes garlic, ginger, turmeric and lemon. The post gives instructions on how to prepare and consume the concoction.

Over the years Africa Check has debunked umpteen claims about herbal cures, very often some combination of the ingredients garlic, ginger, turmeric and lemon. 

We’ve shown that ginger can’t treat malaria or clean your liver, and lemon, ginger and garlic won’t “cure” high blood pressure. It’s also not true that a mixture of garlic, ginger and olive oil will “purge” the liver of toxins and fat, and don’t add pineapple leaves and cabbage to the mix to “treat” hormonal imbalances. Neither will a lemongrass and ginger tea “detoxify” your body

The Covid-19 pandemic led to even more of these rumours, but steaming with onion, lemon, ginger and garlic is downright dangerous – and doesn’t cure coronavirus – and turmeric, ginger and garlic are not “natural antibiotics”

But will this particular mixture “boost” the immune system? We asked the experts.


‘Not scientifically proven’

The human immune system is a large network of organs, white blood cells, antibodies, and chemicals that protect the body from diseases and infections. 

According to the Harvard School of Public Health in the US, certain factors may weaken the immune system. Some of them include old age, environmental toxins, excess weight, poor diet, chronic diseases, chronic mental stress, and lack of sleep or rest.

Africa Check asked Dr. Oluwatosin Wuraola Akande, a public health physician, about the claim. She said ginger and garlic were good for the body but “there is no scientific evidence for mixing or the exact quantity to use”.

“Lemon is acidic for example and too much of it can cause harm. It also weakens the teeth and can trigger ulcers in some people,” Akande said.

She advised that one visit a hospital for proper medical advice on how to boost the immune system.

Dr Dare Adebowale is a general practitioner. He told us there was no clinical data to back up this claim. 

“Doctors don't prescribe herbs because many herbs have not been scientifically proven. I wouldn’t advise anyone to consume the mixture with the hope of boosting their immune system,” he said.

Eating a balanced diet that includes a range of vitamins and minerals, living a healthy lifestyle, getting enough sleep, exercising, and minimising stress may help the body fight infection and disease, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

But Adebowale advised people who are immunocompromised to seek proper medical advice.

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